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September 22, 2009

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Tasty hairy crabs to cost more

ONE of the surest signs of fall is when hairy crabs appear in local restaurants and wet markets.

The price of hairy crabs from Yangcheng Lake, an area renowned for raising the best crabs in China, will rise 10 percent this year compared to 2008, Suzhou Yangcheng Lake Hairy Crab Trade Association officials said yesterday.

The first hairy crabs from Yangcheng Lake in Jiangsu Province were rushed to the local market yesterday afternoon.

The association's recommended retail price is 340 yuan (US$50) to 400 yuan per kilogram for a male crab weighing 200 grams or a female crab weighing 150 grams.

"The crabs are growing well and the lake's water quality is the best it has been in the past 12 years," said Yang Weilong, director of the Suzhou Yangcheng Lake Hairy Crab Trade Association.

Breeders sampled 20 male crabs at random yesterday. The average weight was 206 grams, a little heavier than last year.

Yang estimated a catch of 2,195 tons this year in the 113-square-kilometer lake, 46 percent more than last year. About half of the male crabs will weigh more than 200 grams and 50 percent of female crabs will exceed 150 grams.

The harvest will be bigger this year due to better water quality and good summer weather, according to Yang.

The Suzhou City government and the association spent 13 million yuan this year releasing 1.75 million kilograms of chubs, 700 tons of spiral shells and high-quality baby hairy crabs in the lake. The chubs and spiral shells help improve water ecology by reducing oxidation and algae.

Of the total catch, 360 tons will serve the local market.

"So far we have received crab orders valued at more than 100,000 yuan. Hairy crabs are expected to sell well this year because the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival is included in the eight-day National Day holiday," said Ge Jinhai, general manager of Jindazha hairy crab franchise stores, one of the city's leading sellers of the critters.

To distinguish Yangcheng Lake hairy crabs from others, the association continues to use an anti-counterfeit ring with a serial number.


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